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Christopher C. Fennell

Department of Anthropology
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
109 Davenport Hall, MC-148
607 South Mathews Ave., Urbana, Illinois 61801
(312) 513-2683 (cell);
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I am an anthropologist and lawyer (MA, U. Pennsylvania; JD, Georgetown U. 1989; Ph.D., U. Virginia 2003), specializing in African diaspora studies, legal anthropology, and historical archaeology as an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Law. I served as the Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Head of Anthropology at UIUC from 2010 through 2013. I also teach courses as a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. My empirical research addresses the dynamics of social group affiliations among Africans, Europeans, and various social groups within the Americas in the 18th-20th centuries. These research initiatives include interpretative frameworks focusing on diaspora studies, regional systems and commodity chains, social group identities, ethnic group dynamics and racialization, stylistic and symbolic elements of material culture, consumption patterns, and analysis of craft and industrial enterprises.

In addition to teaching courses in anthropology and archaeology, my faculty work includes: faculty affiliate of the Center for African Studies and the Department of African American Studies, offering courses addressing African diaspora subjects and issues of racialization; member of the College of Law faculty, offering interdisciplinary seminars for graduate and law students; and affiliate faculty member of the Department of Landscape Architecture, offering courses on landscape analysis and surveying techniques. Publications, including recent books, research papers, and works in progress, are listed in my resume. I am privileged to work with a number of talented doctoral advisees, including George Calfas (Ph.D. 2013), Kathryn Fay (MA), Jamie Arjona (NSF Graduate Fellowship recipient), Tatiana Niculescu, Zev Cossin (NSF Graduate Fellowship recipient), Shawn Fields (Graduate College Fellowship recipient), Rebecca Schumann (MA), and Kathrina Aben (MAA), and to serve as a committee member for others.

I am the founding editor of the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage, publisher and past editor of the African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter, a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Historical Archaeology, and a member of the board of directors of the Society for Historical Archaeology. I received the 2009 John L. Cotter Award by the Society for Historical Archaeology for scholarly "achievement which is truly outstanding," the 2010 Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities by the Council for Graduate Schools for "outstanding contribution to scholarship," and a University Scholar award (2014-2017).

I am also collaborating on a multi-year research projects concerning: intersections of tradition and modernity in west Ireland; African-American craft innovations and industrial-scale production activities in the Edgefield Pottery District in South Carolina; and the social history of New Philadelphia, Illinois, a demographically integrated town founded by a free African American in 1836. Please follow the links below for information on these projects, an award-winning internet archive focusing on the history and archaeology of the Plymouth Colony, resources I've created for the African Diaspora Archaeology Network, and course materials.

Sample Publications

book cover image "Dexterous Creation: Material Manifestations of Instrumental Symbolism in the Americas," an invited chapter in Materialities of Ritual in the Black Atlantic, edited by Akinwumi Ogundiran and Paula Saunders, pp. 216-235, a peer-reviewed publication of Indiana University Press (2014).

book cover image "Kongo and the Archaeology of Early African America," in Kongo Across the Waters, edited by Susan Cooksey, Robin Poynor, and Hein Vanhee, peer reviewed publication by University of Florida Press, pp. 229-237 (2013), to accompany an exhibition by the Harn Museum of Art and Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium.

JAF cover image Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage, founding editor of this peer review journal published by Maney Publishing.

"Paradoxes in Designs for a National Historic Landmark's Presentation," Museums & Social Issues 7(2): 323-40 (2012) (with Kathryn O. Fay).

"Literate Inversions and Cultural Metaphors in Edgefield Stoneware," Historical Archaeology 45(2): 156-162 (2011).

cover image "Carved, Inscribed, and Resurgent: Cultural and Natural Terrains as Analytic Challenges," introductory chapter in Revealing Landscapes, an invited book compiled by C. Fennell. Society for Historical Archaeology (2011) (pdf of chapter excerpt and volume table of contents and contributors).

cover "Early African America: Archaeological Studies of Significance and Diversity," an invited synthesis and review article for Journal of Archaeological Research 19(1): 1-49 (2011) (pdf).

Edgefield storage vessel "Archaeological Investigations and LiDAR Aerial Survey in Edgefield, South Carolina," African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter (Dec. 2010) (pdf).

1872 map "Damaging Detours: Routes, Racism and New Philadelphia," in New Philadelphia: Racism, Community, and the Illinois Frontier, a specially edited thematic issue, Historical Archaeology 44(1): 138-154 (2010) (pdf).

cover "Combating Attempts of Elision: African American Accomplishments at New Philadelphia, Illinois," invited chapter in Intangible Heritage Embodied, edited by D. Fairchild Ruggles and Helaine Silverman, peer reviewed publication by Springer Press, pp. 147-168 (2009) (pdf of chapter excerpt and volume table of contents and contributors).

cover "African Diaspora Archaeology in Multiscalar and Multivariate Perspectives," introductory chapter in African Diaspora Archaeology, an invited book compiled by C. Fennell. Society for Historical Archaeology (2008).

cover Crossroads and Cosmologies: Diasporas and Ethnogenesis in the New World, with a foreword by Robert Farris Thompson. University Press of Florida (2007).

cover "BaKongo Identity and Symbolic Expression in the Americas," an invited chapter in The Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Toyin Falola and Akin Ogundiran, pp. 210-50, Indiana University Press (2007).

"Fear and Greed in Tax Policy: A Qualitative Research Agenda," with Lee A. Fennell, Washington University Journal of Law and Policy 13: 75-138 (2003) (pdf).

cover "Group Identity, Individual Creativity and Symbolic Generation in a BaKongo Diaspora," International Journal of Historical Archaeology 7(1): 1-31 (2003) (.pdf).

"Assessing Criticisms of Faunal Analyses and Environmental Reconstructions in the Tehuacán Valley Project," Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal 29(3): 349-59 (2001) (pdf).

"Conjuring Boundaries: Inferring Past Identities from Religious Artifacts," International Journal of Historical Archaeology 4(4): 281-313 (2000) (pdf).

Excavations & Research

diamond Tradition and Modernity on Great Blasket Island, Ireland
diamond Edgefield Pottery District, South Carolina
diamond Brooklyn, Illinois Archaeology Project
diamond Historical Landscapes of New Philadelphia, Illinois
diamond New Philadelphia Web 2.0 Portal, Project Reports and Updates

1998 aerial view of New Philadelphia site with town lot overlay
New Philadelphia excavators

diamond African Diaspora Research and Publications
diamond African Diaspora Archaeology Network and Newsletter
diamond African-American Archaeology, History and Cultures
diamond Anthropology and Archaeology Resource Links

seventeenth century house reconstruction
Blue Ridge Gap at Harpers Ferry

diamond Excavations & Research in Loudoun Valley, Virginia
diamond Issues in Ethnicity, Folk Religion & Symbolism
diamond Excavations & Research in Harpers Ferry, W. Virginia
diamond Consuming Mosaics: Regional Study of the Upper Potomac
diamond Plymouth Colony Archive Project


diamond 2015 Field School on Great Blasket Island, Ireland
diamond Field Schools at Edgefield and New Philadelphia
diamond Human Origins and Culture
diamond Introduction to Archaeology
diamond Archaeology of Illinois
diamond World Archaeology
diamond Historical Archaeology
diamond North American Archaeology
diamond Archaeological Surveying
diamond Landscape Archaeology
diamond African-American Archaeology
diamond Archaeology and Racialization
diamond Racism, Law, and Social Sciences
diamond Anthropology and Law
diamond Social Norms and Law

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Faculty Archaeology Anthropology University

Last updated: October 18, 2014